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It is one thing to be the richest family on the block... it's quite another to flaunt it successfully. Reiner Knizia's classic High Society pits 3-5 neighbors against each other in a race to reveal the most blue-blooded family. To win, you must acquire the trappings of great wealth, avoid fiscal pitfalls and still walk away with more cash than at least one of your fellow barons.
Players: 3 - 5
Time: 30 - 45 minutes
Ages: 10 and up
Weight: 443 grams
Language Requirements: This is an international edition or domestic edition of an imported item. Game components are language-independent. Manufacturer's rules are printed in English.
- 55 money cards (in 5 colors)
- 10 luxury possession cards
- 3 recognition cards
- 3 misfortune cards
Average Rating: 4.5 in 7 reviews
High Society is another established auction game that has stood the test of time, and already has a proven track record of success as a solid filler. I'm not overly crazy on the theme, and in that regard I personally prefer artwork that offers a caricature of luxury possessions. But I doubt that people take the theme seriously, and more important than the theme or the artwork is the game-play.
High Society is a brilliant bidding game, and offers a lot of tension and fun for the 20 minutes of time it takes to play. Both the Misfortune cards as well as the rule that the player with least money at the end is ineligible to win help create deliciously difficult choices. In the final analysis High Society is slightly more complex than For Sale, and is a great quick auction game for more hardcore gamers, but it can be enjoyed with non-gamers as well.
If you're look for a quick and tense filler with some meat on it, grab the Gryphon Games edition while you can! It's not quite as accessible as For Sale, but it's arguably more tense and skilful, and provides some agonizing but satisfying decisions and exciting game-play. For Sale is probably better value and gets more table time since it's a game for all ages, but as a gamer I'd rather play repeated games of High Society - highly recommended as an auction game. This classic Knizia auction game is a super filler for gamers, and guaranteed to please.
I am the harshest critic of board games. I love board games, in general, but most of them tend to be only so-so. I find that even the games on this site which are highly rated by players are all-too-often not nearly as good as their ratings would suggest.
So, its quite a surprise when I do find a game that lives up to its ratings. Medici and Pizzaro are such games. Add High Society to the list. I generally enjoy more complicated games, this one is quite simple and despite the fact that it looks a bit silly, its great fun.
I can only recommend very few games, and this is definitely one of them.
High Society entertains, torments and finishes in under 20 minutes. An upper crust fun/time ratio.
The game is easy to learn and non-gamers can be competitive right away. The auction portion inspires much humorous taunting, while torturing both sides of a player's brain. How much is the item worth obtaining (or worth avoiding) in context with your financial situation, the other players' holdings and tendencies, and the items remaining? You may never know, but it's sure fun justifying (and then lamenting) your decisions along the way.
Save your money? The game might end quickly. Spend your money? You may watch 8 more items go into undeserving hands for bourgeois prices.
If bidding escalates every time, you can't just sit back and sneer at oy, such ridiculous prices, because only one of those free-spenders will lose at the end of the game. And second-to-last just doesn't cut it. Therein, the game's elegance and charm. You want bargains, but you can't be miserly. You can't not HAVE stuff. High society forbids.
And how do you handle the negative cards? You've blown half your wad on the 10, and now the thief arrives. Keep him at bay, and you'll sit on your hands for the next 10 cards and still have the lowest cash.
Three to five players can play. I think it's enjoyable with 3, but I like how the intensity increases with more people. More competitors competing for limited resources.
I love the art work on the cards; they evoke the simultaneous lightheartedness and covetous competition of the game itself.
Great game for the price.
I just recieved my copy of High Society from the new game company Uberplay and I am very impressed with their quality and design. Keep it up!
The game has 16 thick tile 'cards' that form possession cards and can either effect your score positively or negatively. All players are given a set of money cards that are all equal in value. You then start bidding on the shuffled possession cards.
Now, there are a couple of Knizia-esque game mechanics. First, there are 4 cards that have red borders. Once the last red card is turned over, the game is over - you never know exactly when the game will end! Also, at the end of the game, the person with the LEAST amount of money automatically loses so you can't spend all of your money to get the most valuable possessions.
Very fast moving play, lots of agonizing decisions and great strategy makes this game a must buy for anyone who loves nice Knizia card games!
The theme of High Society (Uberplay, 2003 – Reiner Knizia) is one of flaunting your wealth in everyone’s faces. Apparently players managed to jump off the rising wave of internet companies before most of them crashed and have so much money they don’t know what to do with it. Therefore, they should spend it wisely so that everyone respects them. Good theme to teach kids, huh?
But as illogical (although accurate picture of many wealthy people) as the theme may be, the game works very well, being yet another excellent “light” auction game by Herr Knizia. There are only four to sixteen items being bid on each game, yet the game feels very tense (albeit still light) and has a unique twist at the end that makes it an excellent filler. High Society is not as good of a filler as its cousin, For Sale, but does accomplish giving people an enjoyable experience in a short amount of time. The game feels a little “unpolished” to me; but over all, I enjoyed the experience and would play it again.
Each player is given eleven money cards in their color, in million dollar denominations (1,2,3,4,6,8,10,12,15,20,25). A stack of cards is shuffled and placed face-down in the middle of the table. A player is chosen to start, and one card is turned up to begin the first round.
In each round, players bid on the card in the middle of the table. Starting with the first player, each player places any number of money cards from their hand on the table, or pass. Each bid must be higher than the previous bid, and players cannot change any cards they’ve laid out on the table. When a player passes, they take all their money cards back into their hands. The last player in the bidding discards the money cards permanently and places the card being auctioned in front of them. They are now the first player for the next auction. The cards being auctioned are these:
- Luxury Possession Cards: Numbered from 1 – 10, these cards are worth the points on them at the end of the game.
- Recognition Cards: These cards double the amount of points a player has at the end of the game (effects are cumulative).
- Tax Evasion: This card is auctioned off a little differently. The first player to pass in an auction receives this card, which halves the amount of points a player has at the end of the game. All money cards used in this auction are discarded, except by the winner (well, loser – or whatever you want to call ‘em).
- Gambling Debts: Auctioned off just like the Tax Evasion card, this one is worth “-5” points.
- Thief: Auctioned off just like the Tax Evasion card, this card cancels out one luxury possession card. (If a player has none, they must discard the next one they win.)
Four of the cards (the three recognition cards and the tax evasion card) have red borders. When the last red bordered card is turned face-up, the game ends immediately. Each player sums the money cards left in their hand. The player with the lowest amount of money automatically LOSES and is out of the game. The rest of the players total their points from Luxury Possession, etc. cards, and the player with the most points is the winner!
Some comments on the game...
1.) Components: The few components in High Society are of extremely high quality. The Luxury cards, etc., are actually large cardboard tiles rather than paper stock. This gives them a thick, chunky feel that makes them more “luxurious”, adding to the feel of the game. The money cards are ordinary, smaller cards and come in five different colors, making sorting them out easy. Everything fits very well in a nice plastic insert inside a small, thin box.
2.) Rules: The rules are in a fully-colored, illustrated eight-page booklet. They’re extremely well written with examples of bidding and scoring. No one had any problems with the rules; they were fairly simple to understand. I had an easy time teaching the game but found that some people took a little while to grasp the concept of “the first person to pass wins the auction” concept. And no matter how much I stressed it, at least one person would get so caught up in the bidding that they would forget that the person with the least money at the end always loses.
3.) Losers: The fact that the person with the least money at the end of the game loses is a simple, yet incredibly effective rule. Most people will constantly be thinking of this, and it makes their bids that much more agonizing. The only problem this introduces to some groups is that a few people, so stressed out about the chance that they might lose the game, take a L-O-N-G time to make their bids, stretching what should have been a light filler game out to a lengthier game. And High Society! works best when it’s over quickly. The good thing about this rule means that everyone has a chance, even until the end. If two or more players tie for the least amount of money, they ALL lose. So even if you have horrible cards in front of you, there is a slim chance that you’ll win!
4.) Bidding: The bidding mechanics are simple but fun. And the neat thing about the game is deciding what cards to bid on. It might be worth it to take the Tax Evasion card if you already have a recognition card, since they cancel each other out. And maybe the thief won’t hurt you too bad, since you’ve already won the “1”. The order the cards come up in is important; and while I haven’t seen a game end before ten items have been auctioned off, the possibility is always there, keeping all the players on their toes.
5.) Fun Factor and Time: As long as the players don’t overanalyze what is essentially a simplistic game, it moves along at a good clip and can easily be finished in less than half an hour. And since it’s simply a series of auctions that everyone’s involved with, the game goes pretty quickly.
I would easily say that High Society is the best auction filler I have, except that I also have For Sale, which seems to do pretty close to the same thing, and a little bit better. Now, I’m glad that I have both, and High Society does have nicer components, but most people will probably be content with one – and For Sale is the better choice. HOWEVER, if the fact that the person with the least amount of money intrigues you, and you want your filler to be nail-biting; then High Society with its few, important auctions is the game for you. I enjoy it greatly, and with a group who likes tension and moves quickly it will see a lot of play.
Tom Vasel “Real men play board games.”
This is a standard Knizia design in that it is heavy on the mechanic with a little bit of theme added to make it more interesting. It is essentially a resource-management game wherein you are buying unpredictable points (drawn from a deck) with a given set of monetary resources. The mechanic happens to work quite well; I played this 4 times in a row, and the game was enjoyed by everyone. The components are excellent, too. I would have liked a stronger theme to it, but this is still a great introductory game for non-gamer types.
When I first wrote my review of High Society, Reiner Knizia was just beginning his rapid ascent to the top of the heap in terms of prestigious game designers. This review was penned shortly after his release of Euphrat & Tigris. In the intervening years, he has released dozens of new titles and his reputation has continued to soar. He has continued his trait of designing games that present players with a series of agonizing decisions each turn and always leaves you wishing you could have just one more action in order to complete your master stroke.
High Society is one of his designs which was released several years back, and has just been re-released by Gryphon Games, a division of FRED. It's components are simple: 16 commodity cards and five sets of cards representing hard-cold cash. Yet what Knizia can do with these simple components is nothing short of pure magic.
In spite of my normal aversion (probably due to my consistent horrible play in them) of bidding type games, this one hits the mark. Players bid on cards one at a time as they are revealed. Card values range from 1 - 10, with several special cards. There are three 'X2' cards, which, if acquired, double the value of a players cards he has acquired. However, there are a few nasty cards, too. One halves the value of a player's acquired cards, another subtracts 5 from his total, while a third forces the player to discard one of his acquired cards.
As a card is revealed, players bid on the card. Bidding continues until all players have passed. The high bidder takes the card and discards his money. All other players retrieve the money they bid. If a 'bad' card is revealed, then the LOW bidder gets stuck with the card. In this case, the LOW bidder gets to take his money back while all other players lose their money bid.
There are four specially marked cards. When the fourth of these is revealed, the game ends immediately. Thus, no one knows exactly when the game will end and which cards will be revealed during the course of play.
The game has two other unique and neat money-managing features. First, when the game ends, all players total the amount of CASH left in their hands. The player with the LEAST amount of cash in their hands is OUT OF THE GAME, regardless of the value of his acquired cards. Thus, one is forced to manage his money carefully to insure that he has enough money left in his hand at the end of the game to keep himself in contention. Another Knizia design, Quo Vadis, uses a similar feature wherein the player who does not make it to the Senate is out of the game, regardless of the number of laurels he had collected during the game.
The second neat money-managing feature is that change cannot be made during the game. Each player gets a pre-set amount of cash in set denominations (1,2,3,4,6,8, etc. up to a high of 25). As the bidding progresses and a player lays a cash bid on the table, he must increase it from there without retrieving the previously laid bill. For instance, if I had played a 4 and the bidding gets around to me again and is at '12', I cannot pick up the 4 and lay down a 15. I must add to the 4 already on the table. Without being able to make change, this forces one to carefully keep an eye on what he has remaining in his hand. Otherwise, you may be forced to drastically overbid if you find yourself having already used all your low value bills. An intriguing concept.
Players must keep an eye not only on their own money, but on the money which has been spent by their opponents. Remember - the player with the least amount of cash remaining in their hand at game's end is OUT, regardless of the value of his acquired cards. In addition, one must also make tough decisions in regards to how much to bid on the cards, keeping in mind to hold enough cash to be able to bid appropriately so as not to get stuck with the 'nasty' cards as they are revealed.
The game is yet another in the long list of intriguing and agonizing games by the prolific inventor Knizia. He has had a few misses ... but not many. Put High Society on his 'HIT' list.